NDSU Professors say Legislature is threatening higher education's future with deep budget cuts

Apr 18, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson).
Credit ND Legislature

A group of 9 NDSU professors said the future of higher education in North Dakota is being threatened by deep budget cuts to the North Dakota University System.

In a letter, the professors suggest the Legislature use “rainy day” funds – including the Legacy Fund – to restore some of the cuts.

But Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said the Legislature will use the interest the Legacy Fund has earned – as is allowed by state law – but it will not touch the fund’s principle.

"If we open up that Legacy Fund, everybody will be there, and it will be, 'Me,Too,'" Wardner said. "Pretty soon, we'll have spent it down, and we will not be able to finish our objective. It's called the Legacy Fund for a reason."

Wardner said for now, everyone has to tighten their belts.  But he believes things will get better in the next two years.

"And we will be able to replace some of the things that we're concerned about," Wardner said. "But we also need to remember -- there are some things that needed to be cut. We had dead weight in our budgets. And we were able to cut those out."

Wardner said those cuts would never have been made in good times.

"When we start rebuilding, we're going to build on the good things," Wardner said. "This is a correction. It's not a bad thing."